Maybe you are looking to earn a little bit of extra cash mowing a friend’s lawn?
Maybe you bought a new property nearby and want to drive your mower there rather than transporting it in a van?
There could be a number of reasons you want to take your mower out on the road.
But are lawn mowers street legal?
That is the big question and it is one we are answering in this blog post.
So without further ado, let’s get started…
Are Lawn Mowers Street Legal?
Lawn mowers are not street legal due to the absence of features such as indicators, lights, license plates and safety equipment. However in certain circumstances, with precautions taken and a valid reason, they can be driven short distances on quiet roads. They should never be taken on any busy public highway.
What Does Street Legal Mean?
To know if a lawn mower is street legal, we need to first know what street legal means in terms of a vehicle.
For a vehicle to be considered street legal, it needs the following:
- License Plate.
- Safety equipment, ie seatbelts, windshields, rear view mirror, windscreen wipers, etc.
- Front and rear lights.
- Ability to meet a minimum speed limit.
- Emissions compliance.
When a vehicle ticks all of those boxes it is considered to be street legal, and as such is licensed for use on highways and public roads.
Now seeing as a lawn mower pretty much fails on all of those accounts, I think you can guess the outcome…
A lawn mower IS NOT street legal.
And if you wanted to make a lawn mower street legal it would take a significant amount of time, a large number of modifications and a lot of expense (see the video below for an extreme example!).
All for the purpose of driving it possibly only a few hundred yards!
Can You Drive a Riding Lawn Mower on the Road?
Now having established that a riding mower is not street legal, this might seem like a strange question to ask but you can drive a riding lawn mower on the road in particular circumstances and providing certain conditions are met.
Now what I should say is that laws do vary from state to state, so I would always advise you to check the specific details according to where you live, but we can make a few generalizations:
Never Drive Your Lawn Mower on a Highway or Busy City Streets
It is common sense but driving your lawn mower on a highway or any busy street is very much a no-no.
It will be extremely dangerous to you and other road users due to the fact your riding mower will be difficult to spot and the fact its speed will impede traffic.
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You Can Use it in Rural Areas With a Valid Reason
Many states have rules in place that allow unlicensed vehicles, without safety equipment, to be driven on roads for a valid reason.
Usually a valid reason will be considered for farm work or something along those lines.
If you are using your mower to get from one field to another, to haul tools, or to repair fences and cut grass etc you are ok to drive it for short distances on quieter, rural roads.
But if you are doing this you will still need to have a high-mounted slow-moving vehicle sign on the back of it and to pull over to allow any traffic that may build up to pass.
Use Your Common Sense
It really is a case of using your common sense.
Want to use your riding lawn mower to drive down a busy road, full of traffic to go to the store and get some beer or to hang out with a friend? If you are stopped and ticketed by the Police then you have no reason to complain.
Decide to ride your mower a considerable distance along a busy road to cut someone else’s lawn? Again you could get ticketed.
Want to ride your lawn mower a short stretch along a quiet rural road to get to a different part of your property/a different property you own? If you are stopped, then as long as you can provide evidence to the Police that is what you are doing then they are unlikely to ticket you. It is always helpful to carry your license with you in an instance like this as well.
If you regularly have to make a journey like this it would be a good idea to get headlights and turn signals fitted to your lawn mower.
It is very difficult to speak for everyone, and we all know for the 99% of good people out there there is always the 1% that can spoil the party, but as long as you are being sensible and exercising common sense if you need to drive your lawn mower on the road, then it is likely the Police will do the same if you encounter them on your journey.
Riding Mower FAQs
Can You Ride a Lawn Mower on the Sidewalk?
Aha! Maybe you think you have found a loophole – you can drive your riding mower along the side walk!
In most places motorized vehicles such as riding mowers, e-bikes and scooters are banned from the sidewalk.
Even mowing the grass next to the road is considered being on a right of way.
Can You Get a DUI on a Lawn Mower?
You can certainly get a DUI if you decide to drive your lawn mower on a public street while over the alcohol limit.
The same rules will apply which would be used if you were drunk in charge of a car.
If you are drunk mowing your lawn I suppose you could be arrested for that too, but it seems much less likely just being on your own property!
Do You Need a License to Drive a Riding Lawn Mower?
If you are driving a riding lawn mower purely on private property you do not need a license.
Any time you take it on any kind of public highway then the same rules apply as they would if you were driving a car or motorcycle or truck, thus you would need to be able to produce a license if asked to do so by the Police.
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So are lawn mowers street legal? No.
Can you drive a lawn mower on the road? Under certain circumstances and using your common sense, yes!
If you are using a riding mower on a road for farming work, that should be fine, providing you have a sign mounted on the back clearly displaying it is a slow-moving vehicle and you pull over if required to prevent any traffic congestion.
If you are using a riding mower to drive a very short distance on a quiet rural road, you will probably be fine.
If you have just mowed your lawn and need to momentarily use a busier road to turn it around and get back on your own property then you would have to be quite unlucky to get ticketed.
But you should never consider driving a riding mower on a highway or busy road, and you should never consider driving a riding mower a long distance for a ‘non-essential’ journey, ie to go to the shops or to see a friend.
Quite simply lawn mowers are not built to be on the road and their lack of safety features and limited speed make it dangerous to risk it.
I hope this clears things up.